Contrast and Compare

Blame this post on Jo…lol. She asked how did this lesson block contast and compare to how I normally work and wanted the dirt on what I thought, so here goes.

Sharon works basically in these stages:
Peice Block – funny about that, can’t sew if there isn’t any fabric there to hold the stitches.
Seam Embellishments – this may include ribbons, braid, different embroidery stitches, ric rac, and so on to give interest in colours, textures and design.
Motifs – embroidered flowers, flower clusters, silk ribbon embroidery (which I have seriously fallen in love it)
Buttons and Beads and Hard embellisments such a spiders, scissors and so on.

I work in a totally disorganised, upside down fashion – well at least I used to – more on that later.

I peice the block – well followed Sharons instuctions in that, then if I felt I needed a motif somewhere on it would go. Need some buttons – add them. Want beads – the more the merrier. There was no rhyme or reason to how I sewed my block. I didn’t give much, if any thought, to how the eye would travel around the block and certainly didn’t think of the contasts in texture and design. Some seams needed embellishing – well I would just do them when and if I felt like them. They were often the last thing done to fill in any blank spaces – which can be incredibly hard when there is already so much stitching and beads and buttons on the block. Threads get caught, tempers fray and the music would turned up louder or off depending on how things were going. (Am I scaring you yet??…lol)

I had thought about and actually done some work with combining different embroidery stitches, but not done much with adding ribbon or ric rac or braid – or combining some or all of those elements together in one seam. Defining lace with ribbon or beads was another element that I hadn’t considered before. I also hadn’t done much when it came to using different weights of thread such as wool, embroidery floss etc. Many of Sharon’s ideas were so simple but so effective – yet I hadn’t considered any of them. Keeping in mind that there are “no rules” really the sky is the limit as to what you want to do on your block. So long as your, or your guest that you have pinned down with a cuppa and choccie biscuits and told them to “check this out”, eye is travelling around the block, stopping to admire different aspects of your work, finding hidden bits and peices that weren’t obvious in the first glance, then you are doing ok. Well that is my interpretation anyway.

The latest block I am working on I am using Sharons order of work – rereading my notes as I go. It isn’t as nerve wracking this time perhaps cause I already know a bit more about what I am doing and aren’t fumbling in the dark so much.
Catherine's block
I have three quarters of the seams finished and I am enjoying the process so much more. It is fun to fill the seams with just basic stitches at this stage – I will add more to each seam later. Will post another photo when I have finished all the seams which hopefully will be tonight.

Now I did find Sharon’s method of working much better than mine. Funny about that – her experience really shows. I haven’t used buttons all that much in previous work, certainly not in the clusters that I did on my lesson block, but I was something that I really enjoyed doing. Creating the contrast and design elements was lots of fun. They, the buttons and beads, made the block SO HEAVY though – I couldn’t beleive just how much weight they did acutally add to the over all work and I don’t mean visual weight. Embroiderying the seams first makes lots of sense when you really think about it also saves a lot of breath mumbling about how much you loathe the way threads tangle with everything else.

When it come to flower clusters I used to do the leaves first, then the major flowers then fill in with smaller bits. I guess it was the way I was taught when I was training to be a florist. Sharon does the biggest flowers first (they catch the eye) then the smaller ones, fill in bits then the leaves. Which – to me anyway – means that the focal flowers are in the right place right at the start, not squished in afterwards.

I think the biggest thing I learnt from all of this – apart from following a sensible order of work, choosing contasts and textures and playing with buttons and silk ribbon embroidery, is thinking about my block right from the beginning – the peicing stage. Thinking of how the seams are going to interact with other seams, what I could embellish them with, when I am at that stage. Working out what Paths my block has. Yes Paths – that dreaded word that I was so frustrated with. Now I am beginning to see the paths this new block has. I photo copied the naked block last night and began drawing where I think the clusters of flowers and motives should be and what seam embellishing I want to do. Ashley took a look and thinks it looks ok – time will tell. It seemed easier to see where the eye should go as it roams over the block – who knows maybe after all this time I might actally know what I am doing.

I hope this helps – I seemed to have rambled on a bit, but I guess you will get the general idea. It is ok to experiement to play with colour and texture and contast. It is ok to make something stand out, proving it is in a balanced way. It is also ok to make mistakes (that’s what seam rippers are for..vbg) and it is ok to say “Help – I’m stuck”.


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